Researchers recently found that virtual reality glasses, called Digital Spectacles (DSpecs), may improve mobility for patients with peripheral visual field (VF) loss by facilitating their ability to better identify peripheral hazardous objects.1 They backed up their finding with further results indicating the device may enhance peripheral object awareness, specifically for glaucoma patients, by enlarging the functional field of view.2

The first of these prospective case series evaluated 20 patients with binocular VF defects to determine if they could identify objects and avoid obstacles in an environment mimicking a real-life situation and to assess the effect of DSpecs on hand-eye coordination.1 The second analyzed 23 patients with typical glaucomatous defects to determine the amount of increased awareness of peripheral hazards the glasses provided.2

The team discovered that diagnostic binocular VF testing with the DSpecs was comparable with standard automated perimetry, just as the diagnostic monocular VF testing algorithm was comparable with standard automated perimetric determination of threshold sensitivity.1,2 They noted that 18 patients (90%) from the first study could identify peripheral objects with the DSpecs that they could not previously, while another 18 from the second could identify safety hazards with the DSpecs that they could not previously.1,2 The investigators added that 17 (85%) of the original participants were successful with hand-eye coordination and all saw improvements in object-grasping performance.1

The study authors concluded that patient awareness and, consequently, mobility were significantly better with the DSpecs.1,2

1. Sayed AM, Kashem R, Abdel-Mottaleb M, et al. Towards improving the mobility of patients with peripheral visual field defects with novel Digital Spectacles. Am J Ophthalmol. October 10, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].

2. Sayed AM, Abdel-Mottaleb M, Kashem R, et al. Expansion of peripheral visual field with novel virtual reality digital spectacles. Am J Ophthalmol. October 15, 2019. [Epub ahead of print].